South Georgia needs more affordable homes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia needs more affordable homes

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April 12, 2006

Bainbridge- An average home in south Georgia will cost you around $70,000. Regional Development Officials say that's too high and affordable housing hasn't kept up with expansion in south Georgia.

Victoria and her friends know finding affordable housing in south Georgia isn't easy.

"A great need, a great need, there are a lot of people that need to be, you know here, something like this, they need to build more," said Victoria Nwaiwu, Harvest Home Resident.

What is available, goes quickly.

"Thirty days, we leased up, 28 units in 30 days, and while it has been done before it certainly indicates the need for affordable rentals in this area," said Joyce Barr, PHASE President.

Wage disparity in south Georgia creates the biggest need.

"The average income for southwest Georgia is less than $25,000 and most of the housing starts at least at $70,000 right now, so affordable housing is really becoming a big issue across southwest Georgia," said Kerrie Carter Davis, Regional Development Center.

"Housing and jobs go hand in hand and if you don't have a viable sustainable employment base where families can earn a sustainable wage, I'm not talking minimum wage," said Barr.

That's why non profit groups like PHASE which use state, federal, and grant money to built developments like Harvest Home and Courts de Emerald are trying to help and are showing others how to get it done.

"Many non profits are working to help in the area, however there just isn't enough funding that's currently available right now and they're doing the best that they can with the amount of money that they do have," said Davis.

It's given Victoria a place to call home.

"The environment, the area, it's perfect. I love it, peaceful," said Nwaiwu.

The effort has given 65 other agencies in south Georgia the motivation to work together to solve a growing problem.

PHASE expects to break ground on the third phase of their housing development by January of 2007 and will continue to construct affordable housing along the Highway 84 corridor.

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